My future homestead: the passive solar home

I've been thinking a lot about building our own home.  Not having it built, but literally building it ourselves.  Granted, Shayne's only building experience is a massively over-engineered chicken coop and shed, but both of us are capable of following directions and putting together a kit.  We've been considering Shelter-Kit, out of New Hampshire, to help us realize our dream of a cabin-type home.

The kits are post-and-beam, which allows you to customize the interior floorplan any way that you'd like.  The only restriction is the beams, which are 8' OC.  I designed the house to leave the beams in their original locations, though Shelter-Kit can move some of them around a bit.  I'm interested in passive solar heating and cooling, so I've worked to incorporate solar gain into the floorplans.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

The top wall faces south, and this orientation is perfect for our tentatively chosen home site.  The "front", on the right, will face west and the road.  The stove is situated in the stairwell, which is open to the roof, to allow heat to move upwards into the bedrooms.  The downstairs bedroom would be for guests and used as an office.  My mother may come live with us at some time in the future, and I think a main floor bedroom would allow her some privacy.  It would also serve as our bedroom if/when we are too old and infirm to climb the stairs frequently.

The garage would be sited to the north of the house, and the utility room would serve as our day-to-day entrance.  Being close to the kitchen and basement stairs, bringing in groceries would be a short trip. 

The "main" entrance on the west side of the house would be covered by a porch, possibly wrapping around to the north side.  The south windows would be shaded by 18" shed awnings to keep out the summer sun.  The kitchen, being on the north side, would help heat the house in the winter and be cooler in the summer.  Upstairs, the rooms would have skylights to help vent the heat in summer as well as bring in sun in the winter.  If finances allow, nearly the entire south upstairs wall may have a shed-roofed dormer, increasing solar gain.  I think it would add about $6000 to the cost.  The exterior would look something like this with the dormers:

from RRennerArchitects.com
Obviously, our home would be around half the size of this 3200 sq ft behemoth, but you get the idea.  Without the dormer, it would look something like this (view from the northwest):

From Shelter-Kit.com
We're going for a craftsman/cottage look (surprise, surprise). 

Let me know if you see any major design flaws!


Limette said...

That looks awesome. When I retire (from child-rearing) I want a cozy little solar cottage.

Anonymous said...

A good way to look at house plans is from the point of view of traffic patterns and use/furniture placement. I see the hallway as being a high traffic area between the main part of the house and the bathroom, garage, and stairs. As currently planned, every time the refrigerator is opened it will block this passageway. I think that will get frustrating quickly. Also, for the living room. Think about whether you want the furniture to face the wood stove, where the TV is going (if there is one), how you want to entertain. I like have groups of furniture face each other for ease of conversation and sharing munchies. Good luck - it looks like a great project.

Just Ben Here said...

Remember, you can turn the house so that two sides face south or more correctly a corner faces south. Then you would get sun on all four sides!

Also consider the angle of the sun based on how far north you are. You want the porch roof and overhangs to shade the high summer sun but not block the lower winter sun that can heat the house.

Jillian said...

Why didn't I know you when I lived in South Bend?!? Or did I?

Great plans. Enjoy the snow...I can't believe how crazy it has been there.

Di said...

I don't think we knew each other, just have friends in common (Amanda, Marcy, and Vel). When were you in South Bend?

Brian said...

Solar home, craftsman look, that would be a dream come true.

Idabloomstein said...

I bought a plot of land for cash back in '99 and built a one-room 20'x24' cottage. I say with a certain freakish pride that nothing in the house cost more than $15. Thrift store finds, salvage yard treasures, cast-offs from friends, auctions, Craigslist. Nothing a sander, soap, and/or paint can't fix. The entire place cost $31K. It took a few years, but there was never a mortgage. You can do this!

I call the place, "Where Poverty Takes a Holiday"


- Johnny

QualityPoint said...

I like this picture.Its nice.As of now, solar power and solar related devices are expensive. But it may be reduced if most of the people start using it. Let us see the future of solar power.

Solar Shed Kit said...

I have read the post and the information which you have shared that is really good and useful.